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IWLC -The Women’s Connection is pleased to announce the 2017 Athena Awards Honorees and the 2017 Male Champions of Change Honorees. The 2017 Athena Event, sponsored by Merrill Lynch and UnityPoint – Trinity will be held on Thursday, March 30 at 11:30 am at Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, Iowa.

The Athena honorees are women within the Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois region who are known for their professional excellence, community service and for actively lifting up other women to do the same.

The 2017 honorees are chosen by the previous year’s winners.

The 2017 Athena Honorees were selected based on the following criteria:

·         Nominees is a leader in her business or her profession

·         Nominee serves as a role model to other women in her profession and in her community

·         Nominee displays creativity and innovation and contributes these talents to the growth of her profession

·         Nominee contributes time and energy to community betterment

In addition, the Male Champions of Change Award was created to honor men who exhibit an exceptional commitment to the acceleration of women in leadership, and who utilize their influence, talents and abilities to enhance gender diversity.

“Athena International supports, develops and honors women leaders.  Its mission is to inspire women to achieve their full potential.  Our 2017 honorees live up to that mission.  In addition, all five Male Champions of Change nominees are actively engaged in women’s leadership development.  We couldn’t be prouder to honor this year’s nominees.” stated Deanna Woodall, IWLC Quad Cities Regional Manager.

2017 ATHENA Awards Honorees:

Dee F. Bruemmer, retired from Scott County
Dee Bruemmer was the first female county or city administrator in the State of Iowa. Prior to joining the county in 2008, she was Public Works Director and Assistant City Administrator for the city of Davenport, and was the first female in the state to hold either of these positions. As president of the Iowa chapter of ICMA, she was the first female state president in the history of the organization.

Beth Darnell, DMW Design
In the 1990s Beth Darnell created her own firm with two other individuals, named DMW Designs, which quickly gained a reputation for quality, innovation and creative design solutions for businesses large and small. Her business DMW has received numerous Addy awards over the years. She has been awarded the Iowa Volunteer Service Award from Governor Terry Brandstad.

Dr. Ann O'Donnell, Genesis Health System

Dr. Ann O’Donnell was the first full-time medical director for the largest hospice program in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, as well as the first area medical director of post-acute care services at Genesis Health System. She continues to serve on the St. Ambrose University President’s Club.

Nancy Renkes, River Bend Foodbank

Nancy is the Development Director of the River Bend Foodbank, and leads all fundraising, marketing, and outreach to ensure more than 11 million meals are distributed each year to the hungry in River Bend’s 22 county service area. Prior to joining River Bend, Nancy led the Women’s Connection, serving as co-Executive Director of this non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and educating women in the Quad City region.

Donna Young, Isabel Bloom LLC
Donna is the founder of the annual and free outdoor art fair, Village in Bloom. Now in its 5th year, the premise of the fair is to celebrate John and Isabel Bloom’s artistic legacy and collaborate with Quad City. Donna is Co-Owner and Sculptor of Isabel Bloom whose passion for art is surpassed only by her commitment to share art experiences with her community.

2017 Male Champions of Change Nominees:

John Anderson, Quad City Bank & Trust
John Anderson is the President and CEO at Quad City Bank & Trust. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors for St. Ambrose University, Quad City Chamber of Commerce, Vera French Foundation, Ridgecrest, and Genesis Health System Foundation. His past board involvement includes: St. Katherine’s/St. Mark’s Board, WVIK Board, Friends of Davenport Public Library, Quad City Symphony, and many more. 

Decker Ploehn, City of Bettendorf

Decker Ploehn is a life-long Quad Citizen, a graduate of St. Ambrose and a dedicated civil servant who has worked with the City of Bettendorf for over four decades, first as a policeman, then as Police Chief and, for the last 26 years, as City Administrator. Decker is known for his personal volunteer commitments including his long-time service being President with the Bettendorf Rotary Club, the Executive Board of Medic Ambulance Corporation, and many more.

Mike Reyes, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULUAC) Council 10
Mike Reyes has been involved with LULAC Council 10 in Davenport, Iowa and has served since 1978 in various capacities. Throughout his years of service, he has been a mentor to many women that have served in LULAC Council 10 and beyond. Reyes is also a past recipient of the National LULAC Lifetime Achievement Award & the LULAC National Presidential Award   .

Jim Russell, Russell

Jim Russell founded the company Russell in 1983. He is an active member of numerous community and professional boards including Quad City Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement of the Heartland, Master Builders of Iowa, Scott County Family Y, and Figge Art Museum. Jim and his wife, Michelle, founded the non-profit movement Live Uncommon in 2011 championing the values of excellence, work ethic, family, balance, and giving back.

Aaron Tennant, Total Solutions
Aaron Tennant started Total Solutions, Inc. in January 2015. He has over twenty years of experience in the transportation industry. Aaron is the former CEO of Tennant Truck Lines, Inc (TTL). Aaron has been an active member on several boards and committees including: Truckload Carriers Association, American Trucking Association, Machinery Haulers Association, Illinois Trucking Association, and many more.

About Athena International

The mission of Athena International is “to support, develop and honor women leaders; to inspire women to achieve their full potential; and to create balance in leadership worldwide.” Since 1982, 6,000 Athena Awards and Global Athena Leadership Awards have been presented by Athena International in more than 500 communities in the United States, Canada, Russia, China, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

About Iowa Women Lead Change

IWLC is the state’s premier leadership organization for women dedicated to the development, advancement and promotion of women, their organizations and to impacting the regional economy.   IWLC offers comprehensive leadership resources including events featuring prominent speakers, frequent networking opportunities, statewide initiatives and other important services to advance women’s leadership in all aspects of their lives. Since 2007, IWLC – originally known as the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference – has staged events attracting more than 17,000 women and men from across the Midwest. IWLC is an IRS 501(c)(3) charitable organization and welcomes inquiries from grant makers, individual contributors, and other funding partners who share its passion for women’s leadership. 


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